Friday, September 18, 2015

The Finds You Can Find Probate Gold

The Finds You Can Find Probate Gold

My previous post mentioned the roll-out of Ancestry's Probate and Wills collection. The availability of the collection was right before Labor Day. Perfect, a nice, long weekend to dive in, explore and find that genealogy gold. 

The Finds You Can Find Probate Gold

Over the Labor Day weekend, the collection was free to access for anyone. Those who hold an Ancestry subscription (that's golden just by itself) have been able to continue to search, review and share our findings, with much excitement.

As a sign of my disapproval of her course of life

The interesting little tid-bit I found right off the bat was that my 3rd Great Grandfather, Joseph Lucking, had an issue with his daughter Marie and how she had chosen to live her life. How great is that? Yes, it's sad that they obviously had issues, but without Joseph stating such in his will I would never have known that I needed to take a closer look at wayard Marie. What makes a daughter "wayward" in the late 1800's? Not sure, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

As soon as the records became available, my approach to searching the record set was all-in with both feet. And, that is ok, I mean, look what I found! I also found a 127 page probate file for my husbands 3rd Great Grandfather, Thomas Greenstreet. That probate packet is going to take some time to download and review, one page at a time. But it's all good. Without making this collection available who knows how many years it would be before I had access to this information.

Now that the initial excitement of the collection has receded, it is time to settle down and perform more focused research within the wills and probates. To me, new record collections are no different than getting a new phone. You start playing with all the bells and whistles to begin with, then get serious and start reviewing the manual.

The Probate and Wills collection is popular among genealogists

  • Crista Cowan, with, has created a video overview of the collection and demonstrates how best to search for maxium results. The video is titled Getting Started With Probate Records and you can watch it here.
  • Randy Seaver of Geneamusings has been blogging about the probate gold he has been finding. You can read about one winning search here.  
  • This blog post is not directly related to the Ancestry probate and wills collection. However, it is a very valuable read covering how you should approach researching in a new database. Amy Johnson Crow gives some great tips (all-in, with both feet doesn't seem to be one of them).

Now, it's time to get back to mining for more geneagold

Save me for later, using this image!

Finding Gold in Probate Records - A valuable resource for family history research


1. Probate Records; Author: New Jersey. Surrogate's Court (Essex County); Probate Place: Essex, New Jersey, New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1656-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: New Jersey County, District and Probate Courts.

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